Today is the day Hurricane Matthew will hit Florida
Late Thursday. That's when this hurricane will make landfall in the U.S. The storm was centered about 180 miles southeast of West Palm Beach, Florida and moving northwest toward the state at 14 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center. Forecasters say the first outer rain bands from Hurricane Matthew have already begun to approach Florida as the big storm crosses the Bahamas toward the state.
How bad will the storm be when it hits?
The National Hurricane Center upgraded Matthew to a Category 4 storm, with maximum sustained winds of 140 mph. Florida Gov. Rick Scott says to expect threatening winds as strong as 150 mph, storm surges up to 9 feet and and widespread power outages.
What if people stay behind?
Scott hasn't minced words, urging residents to leave the coast. "This storm will kill you." If residents stay, emergency responders will not be sent to help them, he said at news conferences.
What about other southern states?
In addition to Florida, the governors of Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina have also declared states of emergency. Roughly 250,000 residents and tourists fled South Carolina's Lowcountry by Wednesday evening ahead of the approaching storm. At least as many more are expected to evacuate Thursday.
The gas situation: Don't be greedy
The gas supply is plentiful, Scott said, but don't take more than what you need. There are some empty gas stations as — about 1.5 million Floridians are under evacuation orders — but Florida has a six-day supply of gas even if all ports close.
Flight cancellations are piling up
As of Thursday morning, airlines had canceled nearly 2,700 flights — many preemptively — through Friday in anticipation of the storm, according to flight-tracking service FlightAware. That total could grow even further depending on the storm's path. Already, several Florida airports have warned of reduced flight schedules. In Fort Lauderdale, all flight operations will cease at 10:30 a.m. ET, officials there said.
Haiti: Matthew left a broad swath of destruction
The storm has already been blamed for at least 29 deaths in Haiti, Cuba and the Bahamas. Haiti has extensive flooding and rivers of mud that washed out a crucial bridge into the southwestern peninsula of the country. Thousands are seeking shelter. But Haiti Ambassador Paul Altidor said the damage is nowhere near the level of disaster Haiti endured in the 2010 earthquake where 200,000 died.